This is an Easter like no other. With COVID-19 impacting everything from the way we shop to the way we worship life has been upended. Initially, I had hoped that by Easter we could be out and about again, that life could return to some semblance of normal, that the curve could be quickly flattened. It seemed like a good plan, a hopeful plan, until it was clear that it wasn’t to be.
This disappointment has given me pause. I’m no different than the disciples of old. They too hoped for a quick Kingdom victory. Instead they lost Jesus to crucifixion. After crucifixion the disciples hid out in fear; we are sheltering in place. The disciples feared they had no future; we are consumed by a constant barrage of bad news. The disciples had no knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection; we are agnostic about when and how this nightmare ends.
We say we are an Easter people, but the persistent question is, can we rise again?
Forty Days of Apostleship
As we complete this 40 Days of Apostleship we have been focused on expanding our faith from believing in Jesus to believing like Jesus. As we have explored Jesus’ beliefs, we have identified six key ones. First, Jesus believed in his partnership with God; second, that his prayers had power; third, that he had superpowers; fourth, that his life had purpose; and fifth that he had potential. Today we come to the sixth of his most important beliefs: Jesus believed that he would rise again. In other words, Jesus believed in possibility.
Jesus Believed in Possibility
Several times in the Gospels Jesus confided in his disciples that things were going to get very dark, very bleak. However, the light would dawn again. Jesus told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days He will rise.” Mark 9:31
Not only did Jesus believe in possibility for himself, he believed it for his disciples. He told them that even though they would all scatter once he was threatened, that he would still be there for them. “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Mark 14:28 Indeed, he met them on the path as they headed back to Galilee.
Right now, right here—in the midst of disappointment and social disconnection—it’s time to up your faith in a positive, albeit unseen, future. In fact, the bleaker the circumstances, the more important it is to believe in possibility. Other than practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and taking other precautionary measures, believing in possibility is the single most important thing you can do right now.
Embrace the Belief
As your soul makes room for this new level of belief in possibility, use the DARE model to embrace and embody the belief. Adapted from Dream Like Jesus: Deepen Your Faith and Bring the Impossible to Life, this four-step model invites you to use your holy imagination to call forth something new into being.
DARE to Dream
DREAM: Begin to dream now of what a positive future could look like. Focus on your future habits, gratitudes, family life, or congregational structure. Consider how the pandemic will bear good fruit for the state of medicine, community services, and the health of the earth. Allow the Holy Spirit, rather than the newscasters, to shape your vision and guide your thoughts.
ALIGN: Bring yourself into alignment with God by receiving divine courage, comfort, and confidence to dare to dream. Then invite others into your dream of a new future by sharing it out loud. One caution: don’t share your sacred dream with naysayers whose only interest is in doom and gloom.
REALIZE: We have realized just how precious our human connection is. Exactly because they are sheltering in place, one friend is hosting weekly neighborhood potlucks by Zoom. My own four siblings and I are gathering weekly with my parents via House Party. This week, we’ll have an online Passover Seder. It’s been years since we’ve all been together at a holiday. I dream that after the pandemic has passed we’ll continue our precious new habit.
EXPAND: Watch how one good idea expands into others. Watch how spirits rise, buoyed on the life-giving stream of possibility. To expand your dream even more, collage, paint, or draw it. Engaging in this level of imagination isn’t wasted. Nor is it pie in the sky. This expression of possibility is co-creation with God.
Build your own resilience to fear, resignation, and hopelessness by carrying good news on your lips. Resist the temptation to repeat the latest talking heads’ talking points. Instead make it a point to note that He is Risen. And that we too will rise again. Because we will.
I know it’s not easy to maintain a strong belief in possibility in the face of frightening news. Even the disciples had a hard time with it. That’s why I’m inviting you to join a group of like-minded leaders for a new three-week online series, Leadership Resilience. Each week, you’ll learn a new tool to shift your mindset, deepen your faith, and strengthen your well-being. Leadership Resilience empowers you to lead with greater courage, clarity and confidence. Join our upcoming Leadership Resilience Series, or reach out for more information.